Ongoing Increase in Traffic Fatalities Confirms Need for National Strategy, More Safety Resources

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News Releases

February 1, 2022

CONTACT: Adam Snider, 202-580-7930
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Statement by Jonathan Adkins, Executive Director, Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA)

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reported that 31,720 people were killed on U.S. roadways in the first nine months of 2021, a record 12% increase from the same period last year. This is the most people killed on our roadways through the first nine months of any year since 2006, and the largest nine-month percentage increase ever in the nearly 50-year history of the Fatality Analysis Reporting System. Roadway deaths rose in 38 states, stayed the same in two, and fell in 10 states and the District of Columbia.

Roadway safety has worsened nationwide during the COVID-19 pandemic and shows no signs of improvement. That is why the newly released U.S. DOT National Roadway Safety Strategy (NRSS) is vital. The NRSS takes a Safe System approach to stemming the tide of unsafe driving behaviors – speeding, impaired and distracted driving, not buckling up – that are unnecessarily claiming lives every day on our nation’s roadways.

Under this strategy, the equitable application of infrastructure, behavioral, vehicle safety countermeasures and post-crash care combine to create a multi-layered safety net to prevent crashes and save lives. GHSA has provided a guide on how behavioral roadway safety programs fit into the Safe System approach and how our members, the State Highway Safety Offices (SHSOs), can further collaborate with those responsible for safer roads, vehicles and crash response.

The SHSOs also continue to ramp up efforts to improve the safety of all road users by funding high-visibility enforcement of life-saving traffic laws, along with education and outreach campaigns that promote safer driving. We urge U.S. DOT to accelerate the implementation of the new national strategy and the recently enacted Bipartisan Infrastructure Law that will unlock even more resources to help states and cities advance highway safety.

During an upcoming webinar on February 10, at 2:00 p.m. ET, “Expanding Our Reach: The Role of State Highway Safety Offices in the Safe System Approach,” panelists from the California Office of Traffic Safety, North Carolina Governor’s Highway Safety Program and Safe Kids Worldwide will join with GHSA to discuss the NRSS and how to ensure the widespread implementation of safety programs in all communities.

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About GHSA

The Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) is a nonprofit association representing the highway safety offices of states, territories, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. GHSA provides leadership and representation for the states and territories to improve traffic safety, influence national policy, enhance program management and promote best practices. Its members are appointed by their Governors to administer federal and state highway safety funds and implement state highway safety plans. Visit for more information or follow us on Facebook and Twitter.